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Businesses Do Better with Customer-First Marketing
Customer satisfaction is 269 percent higher when marketing puts consumer needs first
For the rest of the February 2017 issue of CRM magazine please click here

Consumers are 269 percent more likely to be satisfied when they believe companies’ marketing efforts put their needs ahead of business goals, according to a survey of 2,400 U.S. consumers by marketing research firm MarketingSherpa. Additionally, 56 percent of respondents said customer-first marketing was either “important” or “very important” to them.

MarketingSherpa defines customer-first marketing as “an approach to marketing that strives for the highest degree of customer satisfaction through deep understanding of customers’ needs and wants and creating a value proposition with valuable products and services that exceed their expectations.” Furthermore, organizations that engage in customer-first marketing will pursue a “long-term strategy to provide value to customers instead of focusing on maximizing short-term revenue.” According to MarketingSherpa, this approach “leads to customer loyalty, an increase in share of wallet, and sustainable business success.”

Additional results from the study support this assertion. Half of respondents were asked about their experiences with companies with which they were highly satisfied; the other half were asked about companies with which they were not satisfied. Sixty percent of those in the satisfied group said the company they evaluated often or always put their needs ahead of its own business goals; just 16.1 percent of those in the dissatisfied group said the same.

Furthermore, nearly 92 percent of satisfied consumers said they were likely or very likely to continue purchasing from the companies they evaluated, compared to 29.4 percent of those who were not satisfied with the companies they evaluated. Moreover, 51 percent of satisfied customers were very likely to give the company they evaluated a chance to correct mistakes by contacting customer service, compared to 18 percent of unsatisfied customers.

Marketers should take several measures to promote customer-first marketing within their organizations, according to Daniel Burstein, senior director of editorial content at MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, an organization that works with companies to optimize their marketing and sales programs. “Ensure that business goals tightly align with consumer needs,” he says, noting that businesses need to look past short-term revenue and include a measure of customer satisfaction. Marketers should also ask themselves where the goals come from, why they will be achieved, and whether they are a natural extension of consumer demand for the product, he adds.

Nevertheless, Burstein notes that not all marketers are in a position to dramatically shape business goals. “If you’re a marketer with less influence and authority to shape business goals, one thing you can do is play the role of customer advocate within the organization,” he says.

Businesses with customer-focused marketing also have greater email success, according to the research. Satisfied customers are 154 percent more likely to stay on email lists than unsatisfied customers.

To that end, marketers can’t afford to invest money in email marketing best practices but neglect to act as the voice of the customer in key business decisions, Burstein suggests.

Going forward, businesses should look to enlist satisfied customers as brand advocates. “Use customers’ own words to speak to the prospects that will be best served by your products while avoiding trying to coerce prospects that won’t be a good fit. Every product on the market has a way it’s serving customers. By tapping into that eternal truth, and not trying to sell people who aren’t a good fit, you can better serve customer needs and attract the customer that will be served by your product to your brand,” Burstein says. “Then use A/B testing to test these messages. Sure, you think you said something that resonates with the customer, but test to really understand, by their actions, if you have.” 

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